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Inhalants and Solvents Facts | side effects history & prevention
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Commercial and Street Names

Air blast, bolt, boppers, buzz bomb, climax, glading (using inhalant), gluey (person who sniff s or inhales glue), hippie crack, kick, medusa, moon gas, oz, poor man’s pot, poppers, quick silver, rush, shoot the breeze.

Drugfreeworld has an additional list of street terms for isobutyl nitrite, inhalants, amyl nitrite, and nitrous oxide.

Description of Inhalants and Solvents

Inhalants are ordinary household and commercial products that are abused in one of three ways: (1) inhaled directly from its container (“sniffing” or “snorting”), (2) placed in a substance-soaked rag over nose and mouth and inhaled (“huffing”), or (3) poured into a plastic bag where the fumes are inhaled (“bagging”). Aerosols and other pressurized liquids may be inhaled directly from the container or out of an alternative container such as a balloon filled with nitrous oxide. Some volatile substances release intoxicating vapours when heated. Many substances leave tell-tale stains or odours on clothing. Their easy accessibility, low cost, and ease of concealment make them popular among youth. There are hundreds of household products on the market today that can be misused as inhalants. Examples of products kids abuse to get high include model airplane glue, nail polish remover, cleaning fluids, hair spray, gasoline, the propellant in aerosol whipped cream, spray paint, fabric protector, air conditioner fluid (freon), cooking spray and correction fluid.

Inhalant 1
Like contact cement, many inhalants are inhaled directly from their original container.

Inhalant 2“150” height=”111″>
Fumes from rags soaked with liquid inhalants are inhaled from a bag in a process known as “huffing.”

Inhalant 3
Contact cement is a common inhalant. Source: DEA

Effects of Inhalants and Solvents

Within seconds of inhalation, the user experiences intoxication along with other effects similar to those produced by alcohol. Alcohol-like effects may include slurred speech, an inability to coordinate movements, dizziness, confusion and delirium. Nausea and vomiting are other common side effects. In addition, users may experience light-headedness, hallucinations, and delusions.

Sources: DEA; NIDA InfoFacts, Inahlants, April 2006
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Compact Research, Inhalants: Drugs (Compact Research Series) (2007) Crystal McCage.

Danger: Inhalants (The Drug Awareness Library) (1997) Ruth Chier.

The disease of chemical dependency: Cocaine, inhalants, alcohol, anabolic steroids, stimulants, tobacco, and other drug addictions (1991) Anatolio E Muñoz JofreÌ.

Drug Information for Teens: Health Tips About the Physical And Mental Effects of Substance Abuse : Including Information about Marijuana, Inhalants, Club Drugs, Stimulants, Hallucinogens (Teen Health Series) (2006) Sandra Augustyn Lawton.

Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Drugs Inhalants The (Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Drugs) (1985) John R. Glowa.

Epidemiology of inhalant abuse an international perspective (1995) U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services.

The Facts About Inhalants (Drugs) (2004) Francha Roffe Menhard.

Fast Facts: Inhalants (1996) Jim Parker.

Health Hazards of Nitrite Inhalants (National Institute on Drug Abuse Research, No 83) (1988) Harry H. Haverkos, and John A. Dougherty

Inhalant Abuse (Incredibly Disgusting Drugs) (2007) Matthew Robinson

Inhalant Abuse: Volatile Research Agenda (1992) Charles W. Sharp

Inhalant Drug Dangers (1999) is written in an accessible manner without preaching and is designed to help empower young adults to resist peer pressure and the temptation of drugs. Judy Monroe.

Inhalants (Drug Abuse Prevention Library) (1994) Clifford Sherry

Inhalants (Drug Education Library) (2005) by Hal Marcovitz

Inhalants (The Drug Library) (2001) Myra Weatherly

Inhalants (Drugs) (2005) David Aretha

Inhalants (Drugs: the Straight Facts) (2004) Ingrid A. Lobo

Inhalants (Health Issues) (2003) Karla Fitzhugh

Inhalants (Learn to Say No!) (2000) Angela Royston

Inhalants and Solvent Abuse (Facts on) (1989) Clint Twist

Inhalants & Solvents (Junior Drug Awareness) (1999) Linda Bayer

Inhalants and Solvents: Sniffing Disaster (Illicit Drugs) (2007) Noa Flynn

Inhalants (Straight Talking About …) (2006) Sean Connolly

Inhalants (Understanding Drugs) (1987) Mark Pownall

Inhalants and Your Nasal Passages: The Incredibly Disgusting Story (Incredibly Disgusting Drugs) (2001) Kerri O’Donnell 

Licit and Illicit Drugs: The Consumers Union Report on Narcotics, Stimulants, Depressants, Inhalants, Hallucinogens, and Marijuana — Including Caffeine, Nicotine, and Alcohol (1972) Edward M. And the Editors of Consumer Reports

The Official Patient’s Sourcebook on Inhalants Dependence: A Revised and Updated Directory for the Internet Age (2002) Icon Health Publications

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Websites Specific to Inhalants and Solvent Abuse
Canadian Youth Solvent Addiction Network
National Inhalant Prevention Coalition

General Information on Inhalants and Solvent Abuse

The Basics: Inhalants (February 2005) provides basic information on inhalants including the effects. Addiction Foundation of Manitoba (AFM).

InfoFacts – Inhalants provides basic information on inhalants such as categories of inhalants, health hazards, and extent of use (statistics) in the US. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Inhalants (2004) provides a fact sheet covering effects and use trends. Rutgers University Center of Alcohol Studies.

Inhalants (August 2006) provides basic information as well as control status and legislation. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

NIDA Community Drug Alert Bulletin – Inhalants explains what inhalants are, types of inhalants, how they are abused, the health hazards associated with inhalants, effects of inhalant use, who abuses inhalants, and detecting inhalant abuse.

Tips for Teens(2006) provides facts and dispels myths about substance use. Information is provided on long-term and short-term effects, physical and psychological risks, and legal implications. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Youth Volatile Solvent Abuse (2006) is intended to provide current, objective and empirically-based information to guide the discussion on youth volatile solvent abuse in Canada. Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA).

Impaired Driving and Inhalants and Solvent Abuse

Toluene – Drugs and Human Performance Fact Sheets (April 2004) is a detailed fact sheet on effects of toluene inhaling, particularly on performance and driving. Toluene is the main ingredient in many household adhesives such as contact cement. morphine and heroin use. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Research on Inhalants and Solvent Abuse

Abuse of Inhalants and Prescription Drugs: Real Dangers for Teens reveals that drug abuse among US teens dropped between 2001 and 2004 except for inhalants and prescription drugs such as Oxycontin and Vicodin. Scholastic.

Characteristics of Recent Adolescent Inhalant Initiates (2006) is a report that focuses on youths aged 12 to 17 who initiated the use of inhalants in the 12 months prior to the survey. NSDUH Report, Issue 11. National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Designing a Tool to Measure the Impact of Client Length of Stay on Treatment Outcome: Overview (May 2005) highlights the finding of a study designed to identify indicators of client length of stay in youth residential treatment for solvent abuse and to design an exploratory data collection tool and related guide. Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA).

Inhalants (March 2003) gives current information and statistics on inhalants, including what they are, how they’re used, who is using them, why they’re popular, what they do to the body, and what their long-term effects are. Also discussed are the addictiveness of inhalants and how inhalant users receive treatment. Additional resources are listed. Substance Abuse Treatment Advisory, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Volume 3, Issue 1.

The NIDA Research Report: Inhalant Abuse (July 2000) highlights the findings of a national survey on inhalant abuse in the United States including the scope of inhalant abuse, how they are used, how inhalants produce their effects from a short-term and long-term perspective. National Institute on Drug Abuse. NIH Publication 00-3818.

Patterns and Trends in Inhalant Use by Adolescent Males and Females: 2002-2005 (March 2007) asked respondents aged 12 or older questions related to their use of inhalants during their lifetime and in the past year. NSDUH Report. National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

For additional research on inhalants and solvents see the Inhalants section of the Office of Applied Studies website, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Treatment for Inhalants and Solvent Abuse

Resiliency and Holistic Inhalant Abuse Treatment (March 2005) focuses on the role of a holistic conception of resiliency in inhalant abuse treatment in the National Native Youth Solvent Addiction program (NNYSA). Journal of Aboriginal Health.

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Video Resources – Education Videos on Inhalants

Computer Duster (Whip It) is a more common inhalant for kids and can be fatal.

Huffing is a form of inhalant abuse and is profiled in this ABC News story.

Nitrous Oxide is forced into a balloon which is then inhaled from the balloon. 

Video Resources – Movies on Inhalants

Citizen Ruth (1996)
Starring: Laura Dern as Ruth Stoops, Swoosie Kurtz as Diane Siegler, Kurtwood Smith as Norm Stoney, Kelly Preston as Rachel.
Director: Alexander Payne

Life as a House (2001)
Starring: Kevin Kline as George Monroe, Kristin Scott Thomas as Robin Kimball, Hayden Christensen as Sam Monroe, Mary Steenburgen as Colleen Beck.
Director: Irwin Winkler

Love Liza (2002)
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman as Wilson Joel, Kathy Bates as Mary Ann Bankhead, JD Walsh as Bern.
Director: Todd Louiso

Thirteen (2003)
Starring: Evan Rachel Wood as Tracy Louise Freeland, Nikki Reed as Evie Zamora, Holly Hunter as Melanie Freeland.
Director: Catherine Hardwicke

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Recent YouTube Videos


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